Business incubator incubates food supplies for those in need

Food business incubator Hope & Main launches initiative to get quality food to neighbors in need

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Hope & Main, Warren's food business incubator, is no stranger to community outreach. The centrally located, food-certified facility has long served as a pickup spot for school lunches over the summer. So when the COVID-19 crisis closed down schools, they again offered their services as a distribution point.

"It only began two Mondays ago, but it seems like a lifetime," said Hope & Main Founder Lisa Raiola. "Within 8 days we started seeing more and more families coming to pick up food.

"With 1 out of 3 Bristol Warren school families classified as low income, we saw that this was a real need."

Ms. Raiola and her team started thinking about what they could do to help.

"Here we are, a still-open food facility, we ought to step up and offer a reheatable meal," she said. "People's health is vulnerable at this time, and they need nutritious food."

They are calling the plan Nourish Our Neighbors, and beginning next week, on Tuesday, April 7, they want to distribute up to 300 reheatable, wholesome meals for families and seniors in need, every Tuesday and Friday from 8 to 11 a.m., from their location at 691 Main St., Warren.
They are fundraising to cover the cost of food. They are signed up with 401Gives, Rhode Island's Day of Giving, at https://www.401gives.org/organizations/hope-and-main  this Wednesday, April 1, as well as at www.makefoodyourbusiness.org.

Food will be prepared by Hope & Main makers.

"Mary Hughes of Savory Fare has really stepped up and has been getting ready to meet this need," said Ms. Raiola.

So has Haley Pollock, a new member of Hope & Main whose private chef service, The Holistic Trick, provides healthy, customized food for her clients. COVID was already forcing her away from her earlier business model of preparing food in-house for her clients, and she was  moving toward a delivery model. "I thought this initiative would be a good transition," she said.

Chefs will be preparing two different menu items for each distribution. "We want to use whole grains, higher in fiber and protein, and high quality proteins and vegetables, while working within a tight budget," said Ms. Pollock.

Caitlin Mandel, Hope & Main's Market Manager is looking for ways to let families know they will be a resource for another meal opportunity besides the daily school lunches for students. "We are excited to do this, and thankful to our makers who will be doing the work to get amazing local food out to the community," she said.

"The governor has been looking for solutions at the municipality level, as well as public/private partnerships," said Ms. Raiola. "Meals on Wheels has seen a 500 percent surge in the last 2 weeks, so they are under pressure; the school department's limited resources are already stretched.

"To survive a crisis you have to solve its problems, and then you learn its lessons afterwards," said Ms. Raiola. "And I think the lesson that we'll learn is we're all sharing in this suffering. On the other side, we'll find ourselves more compassionate through the resolve we have now to meet the moment."

Hope & Main

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.